On Andrew Marr’s programme on 16th October, Priti Patel said that having Brexit debated by Parliament would be like playing poker and showing your hand (to the other people at the table), so that’s why it shouldn’t happen.
She also said that MPs would not be denied a say in the Brexit process. This seems to mean that after, to use Lord Pannick’s term, “the bullet has been fired” (Article 50 has been triggered), Parliament will be permitted to inspect and comment on the corpse.
No-one is now suggesting that Article 50 is reversible.
But how can anyone believe that the UK’s “hand” is a big secret? The idea that there are any wild cards or jokers left unplayed is ludicrous (that was intended to be mildly amusing). “You want to retain access to the single market, and if we disagree you’re going to grizzle? Hey, we didn’t expect that!”, Just one example.
You don’t need a brain surgeon to tell you that the UK government will seek to keep everything that it perceives as advantageous, and to ditch the rest. Admittedly, it would have to guess at what the 37% actually wanted when they voted on 24th June, so wouldn’t it be much easier just to negotiate, excluding Parliament and “the people” from the process, and buy more time to work out what the whole point of the exercise was?
It’s not clear how long it would take to develop “Brexit is Brexit” into a plan that made any kind of sense. Setting a target of the end of March 2017 looks unduly optimistic for such a mammoth task.
As Mr Nick Clegg pointed out on the same programme, Mrs May has already made a tactical error in choosing that date as the deadline for triggering Article 50. Both France and Germany are going to the country next year, and nothing meaningful will happen until after the German elections i.e. towards the end of 2017.
Given that the 2-year clock starts ticking as soon as Article 50 is triggered, that would mean 6 months or so of precious time wasted. Or maybe it’s supposed to be more time to work out that cunning plan?